Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Green: December 2011


The Bird Runner Art of Betsy Roe

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Much of artist Betsy Roe's work centers on the contact zone between humans and other animals. Now Betsy is creating an outdoor installation at Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge, and this time that zone is a bloody one -- the place where animals meet our vehicles on the road.

Betsy! Why are you making us think about this? Roadkill? Yuck! Sad -- but what can we do about it? People aren't going to stop driving and animals aren't going to stop trying to cross the road. So why dwell on it? What's the point?

Betsy's art makes us think of one answer after another.

The Disappearing Ogallala Aquifer, Part II

Kansas Groundwater Management Districts once argued that they, not the Chief Engineer, had primary authority to regulate water withdrawals in their respective districts. Some may believe that today. The following should clarify the matter.

BOGUE, Kan. - It is true that an appropriation permit may be sold, but the Chief Engineer at the Division of Water Resources (often called the Czar) is not legally obligated to approve the original amount appropriated.

I assume Kansas Administrative Regulation 5-3-9 approved in 1994 (which has the full force and effect of law) is still in force. In pertinent part it says that "unless otherwise provided by regulation, it shall be considered in the public interest that only the safe yield of any source or water supply ... shall be appropriated.

Authorization of the regulation can also be found in KSA 82a-706a -- which dates to 1957! In other words, as I have written before in a statement to the gathered Kansas Water Authority in July of 2000, the Chief Engineer has had the responsibility to enforce safe-yield in the public interest but has never really lived up to his responsibility by declaring intensive groundwater use areas (IGUCA) and reducing water use.

The Disappearing Ogallala Aquifer, Part I


This set of articles is my extended, three-installment comment on Diane Wahto's earlier and elucidating remarks (Water Shortages, the High Plains Aquifer, and the Governor's Summit) about the hydrology and the overall scenario concerning a vital and disappearing resource: the Ogallala Aquifer. Much of what I will have to say comes from the days of my earlier, and more hopeful involvement at the lowest bureaucratic level of Kansas water governance -- the Basin Advisory Committee. Since one cannot reliably predict the future, logically speaking, we do not know where Governor Brownback's initiative will lead. In some sense, it will be like locking the barn door after too many of the horses have left. To put it bluntly, I see little in what the Governor has proposed so far that differs from the pious rhetoric of the past several decades by those who could have actually done something to bring genuine stewardship.

BOGUE, Kan. - The disappearing Ogallala Aquifer. Well, where to begin. For nearly 18 years, I served on the Solomon River Basin Advisory Committee (BAC), the last few years as chair.

In Kansas, and I suspect elsewhere, the Ogallala depletion problem is basically -- as un-politically correct as it may be to say it -- that 'the drunks are running the liquor store.'

ogallala-acuifer.gifWICHITA, Kan. - At the height of the 2011 Kansas drought that lasted through spring, summer, and into the fall, Gov. Sam Brownback called a summit of "stakeholders," for a discussion on the future of the Ogallala Aquifer.

The Governor's Summit

The four hundred attendees who gathered in Colby, Kansas, included, among others, representatives from the Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas State University, Kansas Ag bankers, and the Kansas Farm Bureau, as well as Carolyn Armstrong, Colby City Manager and Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, representing the League of Kansas Municipalities.

A hydro-geologist from the Kansas Geological Survey, Dr. Geoffrey Bohling, said of the meeting, "A common statement at the summit was, 'I don't like big government [or government regulation], but we need to regulate use of the aquifer.' This was coming from the stakeholders: irrigators (farmers and ranchers) and people responsible for municipal water supplies. Attached to that was the idea that people would prefer more of a grassroots approach to regulation -- for example, all irrigators in an area cutting back their use by a certain percentage voluntarily."

The Crack in Free Market Capitalism

A man said to the Universe, "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the Universe, "the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." -- Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

BOGUE, Kan. - A reader asked me to write about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now postponed until 2013.

The 36-inch diameter pipe would cover 329 miles in Canada, cross the border at Montana, angle through South Dakota and Nebraska (with a branch to Illinois). Photo shows truck hauling 36-Inch pipe to build Keystone-Cushing Pipeline south-east of Peabody, Kansas, 2010 (from WIkipedia).

Then it would slice across the eastern third of Kansas through Oklahoma to Texas -- over 2,100 miles in all. The estimated 1.1 million barrels daily of synthetic crude oil from Alberta tar sands would equate to 5 pct. of present U.S. oil consumption, and 9 pct. of our present imports.

Estimates of new jobs vary wildly. Promoters say 250,000. Skeptics say as few as 4,000--most temporary. The environmental degradation to Canada would be (and already is) dramatic. Leaks are a constant worry. If 97 percent of climate scientists have it right, continued fossil fuel burning is a bigger threat. Those who've read my columns know I'm convinced scientists are correct.

But there's an underlying and larger issue: the deception of free market capitalism. It isn't free. It's cracked, and the crack is growing.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Green: November 2011. The next archive is Green: February 2012.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Green: December 2011 section.

The previous archive is Green: November 2011. The next archive is Green: February 2012.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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